The Orders of St John’s Care Trust is the second largest not for profit care provider of care for older people in the UK, employing around 3,500 staff and caring for approximately 3,300 residents in 73 care homes.
In order to operate more efficiently and provide the best level of service to their residents, The Orders of St John’s Care Trust (OSJCT) underwent a major review of their telecommunications system and now boast a state of the art bespoke telecoms system that moves the care home industry into a new generation of connectivity and provides significant cost savings each year.
Previously, each OSJCT care home procured their telecoms solutions autonomously. Each paid for their own BT land line, used different handsets and experienced varying levels of service and maintenance.
It was felt that current telecoms solution did not meet the needs of staff that spent the majority of their working days away from their desk and phone.
In addition, residents had to rent their own land lines, most of which tied them into contracts lasting a minimum of twelve months.
“We knew we were wasting money etc…..needed to centralise system and control. We knew we could save significant budget and administration by using one single solution and moving control to our county offices office. Resident having to sign up with BT for 12 months for a phone line is also not ideal and the Samsung solution will enable OSJCT to offer lines to residents at a significantly reduced cost and without long term commitments.”
There were also health and safety concerns for OSJCT as carers would have to manoeuvre to the nearest landline in emergency situations.
“In addition to improving health and safety and efficiencies, many of our future residents will be silver surfers and will enjoy spending their time using the internet and associated technologies. It is important in the move towards a ‘hotel’ style of care home that we offer superior level of facilities and independence that redefines the perception of residential care for the elderly. Making sure every resident has the option to connect with the outside world is vital to achieve this.”
OSJCT had three core objectives for modernising and centralising their telecoms system: save money, enable their staff to work more efficiently and offer their residents flexible and cost effective telephone calls and internet access.
In 2008, OSJCT invested in a Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network that would enable them to utilise the latest IP and domain technologies across their own private network.
They then brought in industry experts GHM Communications to provide and install a bespoke Samsung Officeserv 7000 Series telecommunications system that would meet three core elements: staff requirements, management requirements and resident requirements. Working closely with OSJCT, GHM created a blueprint document addressing each of the core requirements and specifying the recommended installations.
Since October 2008 GHM has installed Samsung Officeserv to OSJCT sites across Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire.
GHM also installed a Samsung wireless network alongside the Samsung Officeserv system which enables each care home to operate a wireless telephone system and internet access, routed from the central hub.
GHM supplied staff members with a Wifi enabled Samsung handset that can be easily attached to a belt or waistband. This means that each carer can make calls from anywhere in the home, most importantly without having to leave a resident in case of an emergency. The solution will also enable carers in the future to carry wireless tablets and notebooks so they can refer to any prescription or medical records without having to leave their patient or medication.
In a few cases where there have not been sufficient funds for individual handsets, GHM have enabled standard mobile phones with Mobile Twinning technology so each mobile can answer incoming calls to the home and transfer calls internally within the home or across the MPLS networks as a whole.
Neil McManus of GHM Carecomments: “Mobility is key for carers. By enabling them to receive and make calls from anywhere in the home, they are able to work more efficiently and improve both their safety and that of their residents.”
June 2009 saw the start of the second phase of the Samsung installation by GHM – a Samsung 7400 IP enabled switch was deployed in Lincolnshire’s county office. As well as providing local staff with upgraded telephony features, the switch acts as a hub for the entire network allowing desk to desk dialling from any OSJCT Samsung system connected to the MPLS free of charge. Local care home numbers can also be hosted on the SIP trunks provided by GHM enabling greater capacity and cost reduction.
It is estimated that OSJCT could benefit from a huge cost saving of £150,000 each year just on line rental alone. Internal call charges are also eliminated, even to other care OSJCT homes. This was originally costing OSJCT a further £7,000 per year. External calls are also charged at a lower rate.
In turn Residents can also be allocated their own individual telephone numbers over the MPLS and SIP trunks without any monthly fees or fixed contracts. This is something that OSJCT are trialling with a number of their residents free of charge but it could be considered an additional revenue stream for other home owners. GHM provides a monthly spreadsheet of external calls made from each number so the trust can simply pass on the external call charges.
Free Wifi access can also be offered to residents, at no extra cost to the trust or home owner, enabling them to surf the internet all day long. Visiting family and friends can also enjoy temporary access to share online documents and photos.
“The Samsung solution will enable us to manage our costs centrally in future as well as significantly reduce them. The admin that we have reduced by having a single supplier and removing the need for individual land lines at each home is immense.
“We will be able to offer additional services to residents and our employees are operating efficiently and safely. The new generation system that GHM has implemented also means that we are effectively future proofed when it comes to emerging technologies and applications. The return on investment for OSJCT will be approximately 2 years which is amazing.”
OSJCT has currently implemented the new system in 20 of their homes and will be rolling it out to the remaining locations over the next 2-3 years.